Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wildlife in St Marys' Woods

When I run (and today I got to RUN again after 5 weeks of racewalking!), I often see wildlife in the woods. Snakes, squirrels, you know, the usual. Sometimes even deer. Today, looping up onto Murray Road, there was a large rustle to my left. Expecting a squirrel, I looked over.

It was a very colorful CHICKEN! (Maybe a rooster?) A feral chicken!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

PTC 2007 - We met all our goals!

Trekking Tekkies at the finish
The Trekking Tekkies had a stellar Portland to Coast walking relay.

Summary points:
  • we broke 24 hours for the course
  • we came in 6th overall out of 400 walking teams

Fun bits:

  • too many engineers loading the van, cartop carrier, and strapping the big oscilloscope model on the top :-)
  • A woman stopping us as we headed out of the sleeping area, wondering what was on top of the van... "I thought it was a toaster!"
  • Talking to an acquaintance on another team before the start of my last leg... Her: "oh, there comes the BLONDE! She blew by us like we were standing still!" Me: "she's on our team. Gotta go..."

How many engineers.....

Good things about being so fast:

  • we were ahead of the crowds
  • we racked up (as a team) over 200 roadkills
  • the blue rooms still had the wrappers on the tp
  • getting street parking right at the Pig and Pancake in Seaside

Waiting for our walker to come along

Susan and Tatyana giving Mike some water

I was driving at the beginning of the second set of legs (think 4am...). Every time we stopped to wait for our walker, I'd take a little nap (nano nap). Then I'd wake up and drive some more. This was making some other persons in the van nervous - I was falling asleep way too readily. And here I thought it was an excellent randonneuring skill. Guess it doesn't translate. In any case the other person offered to drive, so I got to REALLY sleep before my leg. My second leg is #35 - the one that goes for 7.28 miles along a logging road, with no van support. Vaguely uphill, not always paved. Last year I did something to my hip flexor, and, upon finishing, couldn't walk all too well. This year I could walk - the hip flexors were fine, but the quads and calves were grumpy.

Upon returning home, I took a long nap, got up, ate dinner, and went to bed. :-) I'd say I'm getting too old for this, but the Rumpled Old Men hang in there just fine...

The Rumpled Old Men

Results are here: http://results.racecenter.com/2007/ptcw07.htm (yes, we are a men's team - we have fewer than 6 women)

More pictures are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20084214@N00/sets/72157601662201834/

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party 2007

This year's version started with 3 engineers trying to put 2 tandems, 4 riders, and their stuff inside a Dodge Caravan. If one of the tandems had not had S&S couplers, it wouldn't have worked...
Loading the bikes
I usually spend the night before at the home of my friends Claire and David, as we are all doing the ride. I've known Claire via the internet since the mid (early?) 80's. First I was riding, then not, then she took up riding, then I returned to riding. After a couple of decades, we did a ride together...

She offered a tandem couple sleeping space at their home as well, not knowing it was Richard and Nance, the original owners of Clifford, Jason's tandem. Once all was revealed, we planned to carpool up - Richard and Nance riding off to Victoria afterward.

Got myself packed the night before, and put in a short day at work. Picked up Jason, Clifford and his stuff, then drove over to get Richard, Nance, and their bike, already in pieces. So, some bungie cords and blankets, and we were all ready to go. The drive north was uneventful - we turn off on 405 to go to Bellevue and miss all the exciting Seattle traffic.

Richard reassembled their bike, Jason and I got all the numbers and stuff on and in Clifford, then we started dinner.

I had brought salad, Jason had homemade sourdough bread, and Richard and Nance had more bread and fruit tarts from Ken's Artisan Bakery. Add in spaghetti and wine... Lots of dinner. I was stuffed, but that was ok, there was 107 miles waiting for me the next day.

We took care of the dishes while Claire and David got organized.

I had Emma's room, as she was at camp, and had a nice visit with the contents of her bookshelf (Red Scarf Girl this year).

Up at 5am. Claire and David had a nice, substantial breakfast ready for us all. Took care of the dishes, loaded up, and headed off to Magnuson Park, the start line. We found Cecil, got our jerseys and swag, dropped off our stuff in the proper pile, and faffed for a bit waiting for the other 4 to show up. Eventually we figured they'd catch us, and took off.
Cecil at the start
If it wasn't for the initial section of the Burke-Gilman, I'd really like the entire first day. It has roots, and lots of cyclists all moving along in what seems to me to be rather confined quarters. Of course I'm stoking and can't see squat in front. The view off to the right is nice, though. Once we got off the trail I relaxed somewhat :-) Then off through Woodinville, up the Woodinville Hill, then left onto the road with the fabulous rollers (for tandems anyway). Through Maltby and Clearview, then the great downhill where one MUST bear right onto Springhetti Road. I've missed it twice in 4 years :-) Then around and down, and into Snohomish. We stopped at the Buzz Inn (at the airport) for some coffee. As we were heading out, Cecil reappeared. She'd lost her bike computer and rode back a ways to try to find it. No such luck. But she found us, and we rode together the rest of the day.

Then through Snohomish and onto the Centennial Trail. The trail has big concrete barriers that are a challenge to navigate with a tandem - the bike is just too darn long. So Jason thought he'd go around the outside, whenever possible. Weeeeelll. There was this one spot where it was a little tight, and we lost forward momentum. And fell. Down. We did a 360 into some vines, and stopped. Down was the keyword. It was steep. Nothing damaged. Some riders pulled the bike out, then Jason. It was getting itchy there, and I could see down a lot further into a profoundly deep ditch, not that the vines were in any danger of giving way. Eventually they made a line and hauled me out. Itchy scratchy plants. Not nettles, but closely related. I had itchy patches on my left arm and legs. Plus a slug on my sunglasses. Eww. Jason: "I'm sorry". Cecil came back, because she all of a sudden didn't see us. We tried some nettle removal, then headed on.

Then on to Lake Stevens for the first rest stop of the day, then off again to Arlington. Lots of countryside by now, and the screaming descent into Arlington (with the annoying stop sign right at the bottom of a very steep climb up). Then into Arlington for lunch at the Blue Bird Cafe. We didn't see Cecil, so after looking around, ordered lunch. Then she walked by, so I ran out and got her. Itch, tingle, scratch. Jason: "I apologize". After lunch we foraged for a drugstore. On the way, a little boy was completely fascinated by Clifford "that is a BIG bicycle". At the drugstore a couple more children were equivalently fascinated, so we had a nice little visit while Jason and I applied Lanacaine. Jason: "I'm sorry".

Then the most annoying stretch of the day - the first few miles on Hwy 9 out of Arlington, until the I-5 turn-off. Heavy traffic. Then up to Lake McMurray, except the climb seemed really gentle this year. The lake looked very inviting. A brief stop at the store, then off again. On the way to Big Lake, we heard Cecil yelling at us from across the road. She'd gotten a flat, and was just about done fixing it. She said a lot of riders went by, and not ONE asked if she needed anything (!) Past the Big Lake Grocery and a golf course, then down on a new stretch of road (under construction last year) into Mt Vernon, and the official RSVP rest stop. Ah. Fruit. Snacks. Cold water. Green grass to sit on.

Moving on, crossing the Skagit River, cycling past the soccer fields, and into Burlington, through Burlington, and across I-5 to the Skagit Flats. Every other year, there has been an astounding headwind. This year - a tailwind! Nice! Really nice! Passed lots of farms, cornfields, horses, the Bow Cemetery and all of a sudden found ourselves at the Bow Country Store. This year, the Western Washington University Cycling group was selling Gatorade and snacks in the parking lot.
Riding the Skagit Flats
Then off for the prettiest part of the day - Chuckanut Drive. As Cecil had never been on it, we stopped at every scenic pullout and took lots of pictures. Samish Bay was especially photogenic, too.
Mud Flats on Chuckanut Drive

Samish Bay

The Stuffies on Chuckanut Drive

Then off again, up and down, climbing the last hill to stop at the Famous Pink Lemonade Stand and have a couple of glasses of excellent Pink Lemonade. Then into Fairhaven and Bellingham, stopping first at the Days Inn to get Cecil's jersey, then up the hill to the dorms at WWU.

Moved into our rooms, then decided on Boundary Bay Brewery for dinner. We hiked through campus (I knew the route; Rebecca went to school here for a couple of years), enjoying all the sculpture, especially the little builders in the Haskell plaza. Then down into Bellingham, where there was beer, fries, and dinner!

We planned to meet just before 7 the next morning, and head to Lynden for breakfast.

Scratched my arms while pullin on the armwarmers. Jason: "I'm sorry". Riding out of Bellingham the next morning, we found Richard and Nance. They and Cecil went on ahead (as expected). We enjoyed the ride through the countryside and made decent time to Lynden. Found them all in the Dutch Mother's. Richard and Nance were getting some small takeout thing. That just wouldn't do; Jason, Cecil and I did the sit-down eat the buffet breakfast thing. Much food and coffee.


Through Lynden, past many dairy farms, then along the Canadian border to the Aldergrove Crossing. It was quick. "Welcome to Canada, have a good ride!" Pictures all around. The Team Bag Balm jerseys got a lot of attention.

Lynne at the border crossing

Riding past farms, and into bits of suburbia and back into farmland. We summitted the Wall, to find Cecil supremely unimpressed by it at the top. She's right. It isn't long. More riding, almost getting taken out by a cyclist who cut in on our right as we were crossing the worst set of RR tracks on the ride. We yelled. She was "what did I do?". Grumph. Darn near took us out, is what she did. Then into Fort Langley, where Jason went in search of water, and Cecil and I went foraging for an ATM, to get some Coin of the Realm. Then off tot the Albion Ferry. This year they clumped us up, then sent a wave onto the ferry, RIDING our bikes, not taking the pedestrian walkway. It does make for faster loading - there was no backup this year.

Cecil and Formerly Floyd on the ferry

Crossed the river, then onto the Lougheed Hwy (crowded), climbing to Maple Ridge (there is a reason it is "ridge"), and turning off at the food stop at the Farmer's Market. More fruit, and David and Claire. We all sat around and snacked and talked, then headed off to the Dewdney Trunk Road.

Claire, David, Jason and Cecil at Maple Ridge rest stop

It was kind of scary this year - heavier traffic and lots of big semis. It would have been a better idea to take the Dyke Trail Option, which skips that whole section. Note for next year!

Through Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam (not as scary this year, perhaps because the road construction is complete), into Port Moody, and the rest stop at Rocky Point Park. Mmmmm, ice cream. Up and around onto the Barnet Highway - great views of piles of sulfur (really, it was very pretty, a great shade of yellow) and the Burrard Inlet. Still had our tailwind, too. The Barnet is usually a slog, and it really wasn't this year.

Burrard Inlet from the Barnet Highway

Then into Burnaby and onto the bike routes. Passed the Cathay Villa, a retirement home for members of the Chinese community. Somehow, those two words just don't go together. Anyway, into Vancouver proper, up through Chinatown (at this point the map is in my hand and I'm directing), then through Gastown (wedding going on at the Steam Clock), then left on Cardero, up to Comox, and finish.

Parked the bike, then headed up for the party. Found Cecil, ate, then found David and Claire. David had apparently been talking about dinner at Tanpopo for the last 20 miles :-) We arranged to meet there at 7. Cecil, Jason and I claimed our bags and started walking to our respective hotels. Cecil had other dinner plans, but the four of us had a wonderful all-you-can-eat sushi dinner that evening. Then walked back to our hotel :-) Good thing after all that food.

We found Cecil in line the next morning with her bike. Jason got Clifford and put it in the tandem pile (they are loaded last). He then foraged for more coffee, and we visited. David and Claire came by after putting their bike in the tandem pile, then David went off to seek out provisions for the bus back to Seattle. Smart man.

Cecil waiting to load her bike

We got on the bus, and headed out. I finished my book and then returned to finishing my sock. Got to the border. And waited. And waited. And waited. For 3 HOURS! We saw the bicycles go through. We waited. Grumble. When it was finally our turn, we were in and out of the immigration line in no time at all. The earlier busses were full of non-US citizens, which is why it took so freaking long. No food. No water. No public bathrooms (for security reasons). Most of us had water and some snacks, so it wasn't that dire. But still...

Then on to Seattle. I could tell we were all low blood sugar - Jason, Cecil and I were all very quiet, which is not the usual state of affairs at all.

The bikes were there, although not completely unloaded. Rumor had it that they had to unpack them at the border. Said our goodbyes all around. Clifford came off the truck about 15 minutes later, and we loaded up and went in search of FOOD. Then a very long drive home.

Cecil's pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cecilanne_r-s/sets/72157601579969705/
My pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20084214@N00/sets/72157601567966854/

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Clatskanie - Cape Disappointment 200km Permanent

Or, the day we went to Washington three times...

Cecil and I set out to give this Permanent route a go. I hadn't ridden on any of the roads on the route, and it looked like fun. A covered bridge, a ferry... All the elements of a great ride.

As we planned on a 6:15am start, and Clatskanie is at least a 75 minute drive, Cecil came over the night before. We got all organized then as well. Up at 4am (ouch), out the door pretty close to 4:30.

Google said it was faster to go up I-5 to Longview, over the bridge to Hwy 30, and thence west to Clatskanie, so that is what we did. Arrived just before 6am. It was CHILLY and FOGGY. This called for armwarmers, knee warmers, Showers Pass jacket, wool cap, wool gloves with the short finger gloves. Cecil and I matched :-) No signs of life at the Safeway. So we got organized, and right at 6, the Safeway woke up.

Went in and bought some bananas; the obliging checker signed our cards as well. Then off to catch the 7:15am ferry from Westport. The road was freshly asphalted and amazingly smooth and quiet. Then we started seeing "Road Construction - be prepared to stop". Eventually, we did have to stop. We scooted up to the head of the line to see what was going on. The pilot car showed up, leading a group of cars, then motioned for us to get in front of her. "Ride in front of me, but don't get too far ahead". No chance of that :-) So we got to be the pilot bicycles for a couple of miles, then proceeded on. Turned off at Westport for the ferry. There were a couple of cars waiting; we were early. They wanted to know if we got a lot of flats with those skinny tires. Um. No.

Waiting for the ferry in Westport

The ferry arrived and we all loaded up. Nice foggy views of the river, trees, paper mills, pilings... It zipped right along, too. Arrived on Puget Island - the ferry operator wished us a good ride and headed off for his breakfast.

Bicycles on the ferry

A peaceful ride through the island - houses with chickens, curio shops, farms. Then over the bridge to the mainland and Cathlamet. Still excellent road surface. Eventually we started the climb on KM Mountain. Not bad, but long. My camelbak mouthpiece decided to pop off, but it was quickly found and restored. The top had a false summit - it looked like we were headed downhill, but we weren't. It was weird. Finally summitted and had a fun downhill on the excellent road.

Then off to the covered bridge. The road quality deteriorated somewhat (we grew to dislike the "motorcycles use extreme caution" signs). The bridge was on a nice little loop going past farms. Stopped to fill out our cards and take many pictures :-)

Gray's River Covered Bridge

Cecil in the Gray's River Covered Bridge

Then moving along to Rosburg (stop for the blue room and a plum), then moving along. Through Naselle, and onto Parpala Rd. It started with clearcuts and turned into salt marsh. Quite pretty! The road was chip seal. I could see a road up ahead, and figured it was probably Hwy 101. Eventually we got there, and it was.

Left turn, and a stop at the Willapa Bay Wildlife Refuge. Ate my apricot jam and brie cheese sandwich (I read that is what the TdF riders get in their lunch sacks; thought I'd give it a try. They've got something there. Its good.) A guy from Charleston NC stopped to talk about our bikes; he maintains the bikes for their police department.

We rode along Willapa Bay for awhile, enjoying the views of the bay. Got our first view of the Pacific Ocean. Up and down, then into Ilwaco; more grooved pavement. Makes my brain rattle.

A stop at the market, for snacks, water, sports drink and a signature. They were not sharing their bathroom. Then off to Cape Disappointment. Up and down, not so much traffic. Then back to the interpretive center, with a stop at the campground, where an RV driver towing a boat nearly took me out with one of the boat motors.

Got to the path to the lighthouse. As it was not just right there, we elected to skip seeing it. Continued on the loop, stopping to take pictures of the Columbia River and the Ilwaco harbor.

Cape Disappointment

Back through Ilwaco, on 101. We were to skip part of 101 by taking Airport/Stringtown Rd.

I'm not riding on THAT!

Just past the airport, the road turned into a sea of loose gravel and construction. A gentleman coming off it told us it was like that the entire way. He asked where we started and where we were headed. "Commendable", he said. We elected to go back to 101 and follow it, instead.
Passed through Chinook (nice shingle houses and some gorgeous cedar-sided houses), then onto the tunnel. We did push the button, but it did not appear to actuate the flasher. I turned on my rear blinkie. Fortunately, it was a short tunnel. Then along the river, with the Astoria Bridge coming ever closer. Not that I had nightmares about crossing it, but it definitely did cause some trepidation. It goes WAY up there, and the west winds can be strong. And it is 3.5 miles long.

Astoria-Megler Bridge

As it turned out, not so bad. Traffic was patchy, and generally considerate, and we had a tailwind. Except when I was climbing, I was going along at about 18.5mph, watching Cecil vanish on ahead. The shoulder was narrow, but clean. Lots of dead birds. Seagulls would hover at eye level. Looping off the bridge was the most exciting part - I needed to be in the left lane. Fortunately there was a break in traffic, so it was uneventful. Cecil was waiting across the street. Her first words - "How about some salty french fries at McDonalds?"

Rode through Astoria, trying hard to not be doored in the bicycle lane - it was very busy that day. Into Mc D's, ordered fries and sodas, and a signature. Cashiers were very obliging all day :-)

Off for the last 36 miles. Hwy 30 mostly goes up. There are downs, but they are short. This went on for way too long. My shoulders had gotten seriously knotted up, and were screaming at me. Cecil pounded on them for a bit, and we went off again. Then I saw the sign "Clatsop Summit", which explained everything. A long, tense downhill. It would have been FUN, had it not been for the traffic and narrow shoulder.

Found Cecil at the bottom, and we ended up back on the amazing pavement, with a tailwind. Good thing, because my shoulders were unhappy again. Moving along at about 17-18mph (speeds not really seen most of the day, I might add), passing through Westport, only 9 more miles to go...
Entering Clatskanie, the last curve, and the Safeway! Done! Put stuff away, went into the Safeway for snacks and a receipt. We got a woman sitting in her truck to take our picture.

Oh, and we drove back the same way. So, Washington 3 times...

More pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20084214@N00/1096041272/in/set-72157601391581924/

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

And I do this WHY exactly?

Besides being a cyclist, I am also a runner. Not a fast one, but I put in 16-20 miles a week. But before I was either of those, I was a walker. A fast walker. I've been participating on our company's competitive team for the Portland to Coast walking relay for many years. (The Trekking Tekkies - you can check out our placing from past years on the relay website).

I stop running at the end of July and start walking. By the time the race rolls around, I'm back up to speed. Usually. In past years. By speed, I mean 11:20 miles.

This year, it HURTS. I've got lots of cycling events right up until the race, which I will not cut back on (priorities). Yesterday I was ready to tell our spreadsheet guy to add 10 seconds per mile to my projected pace.

One of my teammates has been going on about her wonderful shoes. I checked them out, and as my current shoes (great running shoes) weren't helping, I thought I'd buy a pair. Mind you, this is the first time in 10 years that I have gone to a store and paid retail for a pair of running shoes. In previous years, my running shoes were entirely sufficient, but I haven't been able to find ones that are quite like those shoes.

Oh, SO worth it! My pace today was below my projected pace, and it felt really good. No sole scuffing, flexible soles, but sturdy enough for non-paved surfaces. Ordered another pair for the second leg today (best to have a fresh pair of shoes for each leg).

In case anyone is wondering, the Wonder Shoes are New Balance WR790 Trail Runners.

Looking forward now to racking up the roadkill on the relay!

Just fooling around...

A co-worker was talking to another one about buying herself a bicycle. As this was right over the cube wall from me, and clearly one of my favorite subjects, I walked around to join in.

She was looking at a Trek Lime - just wanted to ride around the neighborhood. As she lives in the flatlands of Aloha, it would be just fine.

After work, she and another co-worker were headed over to Bike Gallery to test-ride. I thought I'd ride over and join them :-) She ended up riding the Lime and the Amsterdam Electra (both step-through frames). We all ended up riding the Lime and the Amsterdam.

The lack of hand brakes freaked me out some - I haven't ridden a bike with a coaster brake since I was 16 (when dinosaurs roamed the earth). The automatic shift on the Lime was real interesting.

So we all rode around and talked about the various bikes, and generally had a fun time. The Amsterdam is much more fully accessorized than the Lime, and costs about the same, I think. She was thinking about a basket, but "they look dorky!". J. and I told her that baskets were the HEIGHT of trendy right now, and so were city-type bikes.

She was going to sleep on it. Actually, I think she made up her mind, but we convinced her to sleep on it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How Cool is This?

After day 1 of the MS Bike Tour, the odometer on Lemond read 9393.9


Monday, August 6, 2007

MS Bike Tour, Day 2

Being me, I wanted the full meal deal. That meant after a 104 mile ride Saturday, I was all set for the 73 mile ride on Sunday. Fitz thought he'd give it a try as well. He could always bail at the decision point...
Us at the Banks-Vernonia trailhead
We started right at 8am. We saw riders starting earlier (the course did not open until 8), but didn't know why.

So. South out of Forest Grove to loop through the wetlands, up through Cornelius, and into Verboort, for the first rest stop (this route had rest stops averaging 7 miles apart...). Off again, beating against the headwinds north on Hwy 47, merging onto Hwy 26 westbound. Next rest stop at the Manning trailhead of the Banks-Vernonia trail. Bruce tried to give me another water bottle, but I settled for some lube on the chain, and him taking a picture of us.

At this point, the route got...challenging. Instead of heading to where 47 goes north to Vernonia (our northernmost point), we turned on Fisher Road to go to Buxton. Now I've never been there before, but the road goes UP. Then down, back onto 47, where eventually the road starting going UP again, climbing to Tophill. A long grinder of a climb, then down, to the next rest stop at Lee's U-Catch (mile 33). Yummy snacks and conversations with other riders, mostly about the grade of Tophill. Apparently it goes double digits briefly. Also conversation about the upcoming climb, the only one they warned us about.

Yes, right on McDonald. Never done this one before. UP for .9 mile. Steeply up. There was a really nice house with some excellent raised beds near what I thought was the top. Turned a corner and... more hill. Not too much, though, then a long rolling descent. Large roadkill spotting as well. It had been there for quite awhile, and was still in the middle of the road. You'd think there would be some agency that would remove them. Even Bear Grilles wouldn't recommend snacking on this one.

Eventually we came to Vernonia - from the north! I was wondering if we'd ever get there. Rode through - the town was having a major festival, and traffic was at a standstill (I can hear some of you thinking - "traffic jam? Vernonia?"). Then out of town and south on 47, to the Timber Rd turn; another rest stop. Fitz had been ahead of me all day, and was waiting there for me.

Admired the speaker setup for an iPod on a tandem (the stoker looked to be about 10 years old; entertainment needed). Off again, heading for the Hwy 26 crossing. This stretch is over 10 miles, through forests and the occasional farm. No real indication that you are making progress at all. The crossing was uneventful; we didn't have to wait too long. This crossing has no refuge lane; you've got to get across 4 lanes of 55mph traffic (main route to the coast) in one go.

Then through the clearcuts and initial climb to Timber. Fitz: "Is this the Timber climb?". "No, this is the preliminary Timber climb." It must be really hard for those Ford F-250s to make it up the grade, too, considering the number of beer cans, liquor bottles and fast food wrappers they had to throw out to lighten their load.

Then another rest stop just before Timber, at a timber farm :-) I was listening to a couple of women chatting, and one of them is talking about her in-laws from {European country} visiting for a month and her husband {co-worker of mine from European country}. At which point I asked who she was! Turns out she's co-worker's wife, and we had a nice little visit. Small world!
Rest stop at the timber farm, day 2
Then off again (any plans of sticking to the 12 miles per hour were long gone by now), and the Real Timber Climb. Fitz had never been to Timber, so he got to see the tiny post office and teeny fire station, all perched on the hillside of the 3 switchbacks that are Timber. Through the clearcut, DOWN (Lynne burns off more brakepads here), then heading to the turn onto Hwy 6. Another longish stretch with no indication of progress and lots of deep NW forest.

Rest stop right after the turn. We had a few more snacks (goldfish looked good), then the 3 mile stretch on the Hwy 6 shoulder. Perhaps not the best route, but unfortunately, the ONLY route. It is only 3 feet wide heading east, with no place to go on the sides. I dislike RVs as much as I dislike hay trucks. They take up the entire lane, have a huge draft, and are driven by people who are not professionals. eeep. Finally the road opened up a bit, and we had more room.

Right onto Gales Creek Rd. Now, the KIND thing to have done, would be to route us into Forest Grove all the way on Gales Creek. But NO. We turned left onto Clapshaw Hill Rd. Clapshaw Hill is one of those in a special category. Hors Category, I think they call it in the Tour de France. It is incredibly steep. Fitz needed one more cog on his bike. I had that cog, but I wasn't sharing. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Then the top, and another brake pad burner down to Hillside, for the last rest stop (M&Ms).

Then the wonderful drop on Hillside (the one place where I will let the bike GO), then the rollers, which are just not spaced well for surfing. South on Thatcher, picking up Gales Creek again in Forest Grove, a brief pass through some neighborhoods, and we were DONE!

More wild cheering and a finish medal. It was 3;38, and we'd started at 8am. Jennifer, the coordinator suggested we get beer NOW if we wanted it. Fitz headed off directly to secure beer and a table; I got my meal and some iced tea. We sat and visited and ate for awhile. That's why the riders started before 8 - they wanted to make sure there was beer when they got back!

As we had to be out of our dorm room by 5, we then headed over and put our bikes in the van, took our showers and checked out. Then we took down the Qualcomm tent (we were just about the very last folks to leave the camping area), and headed home...

And Fitz did the whole thing, too! I think he can do a century, if he can do a 73 mile ride with over 5000 vertical feet!

MS Bike Tour, Aug 4-5

Team Qualcomm
Just back from a fun weekend in Forest Grove! As Fitz was a VIP, we had things to do there all three days, so we got a dorm room at the university, which saved a lot of back and forth driving.
Little Pink Bear does its part
Friday after work we drove out, checked in, and attended the VIP reception. It was on the street in front of Maggie's Buns, and Maggie did the catering. Yummy! Visited with other riders as well. Then we set up the Qualcomm tent, so the team riders would have a shady place to meet and hang out. Visited with the UFCW team members across the path, as one of them is a fellow Portland Velo member (hi Scottie!) They have exceptionally cool jerseys.

Then off to our dorm room. We did have a roommate - the delightful Joe, from Dallas, Oregon. We all got our bikes ready for the next day, as we were planning on a 7am start. Putting on all the numbers and organizing the clothing does take time.

Passed by the REI table - Bruce B was working there, and talked us into some free water bottles.

Finally got to sit down and pay the bills, too! There was a mailbox by the cafeteria, so all done!

Up at 5:30, and off to a 6am breakfast. Then over to the Qualcomm tent at 6:45; some folks were there, some were still at their cars. More number pinning, then we had a team start at about 7:20. Our team name was announced, round of applause, and off we went.
Preetha getting ready
I was trying the Rickey method - ride 12 miles every hour. If my pace drops, well, I've just got less time to faff at the rest stops. There were 3 of us planning on doing the 104 mile route, but I did not expect to be riding with the other 2. I'm not fast, just persistent. Preetha was riding the 36 mile route, so I didn't see her after we started.

I met up with the rest of the team at the second and third rest stops, then I was on my own. Not so bad, really.

The climb of the day was Ladd Hill, between the 4th and 5th rest stops. First a long run on Wilsonville Rd (horse country. not a bad road if there isn't traffic, because it is narrow, and there are no shoulders. There was a bit of traffic, not much). Then the left turn onto Bell Rd. Gradually climbing, not so bad... Then the grade kicked up. Then several false summits. Up. Up. Up. I did pause at one point for a couple of minutes, then pressed on. Then a sign - "you have reached the summit, have a cool drink!" Which they would sell us for a dollar. No thanks.

Steep descent into Sherwood (my hands still hurt from braking), and the rest stop. Bruce B greeted me, and made me take another water bottle :-) Visited for awhile, and had a craving for salt, amply satisifed by potato chips. I was thanking a volunteer for being out there - he said his daughter had MS, and they wanted her to get the best treatment available, and more funding for research was a good thing. As it turned out, many of the rest stop volunteers did have MS.

Then through Sherwood, onto Elwert Rd, left at Petrich's General Store, right on Hwy 219... Ugh. Hay trucks. I despise hay trucks. Think a semi towing 2 longbed trailers, piled very high with hay bales. Passing so close I could reach out and touch it (I was trying to get off the road; there was nowhere to go), then turning RIGHT just ahead. You'd think it could have WAITED.
Hwy 219 also has rumble stripped white line and no shoulder.

Then off onto Farmington, Burkhardt, Simpson... Rest stop at the Oak Knoll winery. Cool grass, snacks, drinks. I'm still on schedule, even with Ladd Hill. Off again, now onto very familiar territory - Johnson School, Tongue Lane, Golf Course Rd, the wetlands... I can smell the barn.
It's all for sale
Pulled into Pacific University; Fitz and Brent were sitting there waiting and taking pictures. Then through the finish line (wild cheering, a finish medal....). I looped back to tent, visited a bit, then went to the room for a shower, and back to the beer garden. Had dinner with Fitz and Brent, then got myself a massage. Then back for dessert and entertainment. Then it was 8pm, and we were falling asleep :-)
Lynne and Brent relaxing at the finish
To be continued...

Portland Velo Members-Only Century

Portland Velo Club Century
My cycling club (Portland Velo) hosts a members' century and bbq every summer. This year I signed up to be a course marshal on the metric century; Fitz was going to volunteer at a rest stop. Jason was also a course marshal, so we rode the tandem.

The 17s group started out as a large group, with Jason, myself, K-Rhea, and his wife, all on tandems. Then the 19s, who had mistakenly made the right on Sewell (hey, we ALWAYS turn right on Sewell!), came flying by, and our group got smaller. Oh, well, they'd be back eventually.

I had thought the route would be the same as last year's... but no. Carpenter Creek and Plumlee were added, meaning a significant hill climb (on a tandem. Ouch.). Not to mention the descent...

Visited with Gary G on Carpenter Creek. Lots of wildflowers blooming, and the herd of sheep is bigger.
Gary G and Ed
Sheep on Carpenter Creek Road

The climb up Plumlee was ok. The descent was interesting. Sharp curves, warning signs (I figure if there is a yellow speed caution sign, that a tandem shouldn't go any faster than that, a sentiment not entirely embraced by the captain). Then a lot of bicycles in the road and emergency vehicles pulling up :-( The rider was in the ditch, and being told not to move. Good thing, because he'd broken some vertebrae in his neck. He's in the hospital, and will recover.

So, a gentle, controlled finish down to Dilley Road, then off to circumnavigate Hagg Lake. Mike Y had rejoined us by this time, and was lobbying to skip the Hagg Lake loop. I told him to go ahead, but he wanted company. No one was offering, so he stayed with us, singing little songs about not wanting to ride around Hagg Lake.
Eeyore and Ed at Hagg Lake
Tanner Creek entering Hagg Lake

The loop completed, we headed back out to the Lake Store for a brief break, then east again, crossing HWY 47 to head to Fern Hill, the wetlands, Cornelius, and then autopilot back to Maggies.

We found Fitz at the rest stop on Fern Hill. He had his bike on top of someone's car, and took it down to finish the ride with us.

By the time we got to Evergreen, Mike Y must have been delirious - he was singing little songs about man was meant to travel in internal combustion vehicles.

Back to Longbottom's, where we found snacks. A brief side trip to Bally for a shower and change, and then back for the beer, more snacks, and then the bbq. Ribs, chicken, brisket, sides, dessert... MMMMmmmmmm.